UK prime minister Boris Johnson has promised a new NHS visa so that doctors and nurses can immigrate to the UK. The NHS visa is part of the points-based immigration system by the Conservative Party post-Brexit.
Introducing the new visa is a response by the government to the concern that the NHS will find it challenging to attract staff after Brexit. The NHS relies on personnel born outside the UK. In fact, 12.5% of the 1.2 million NHS workers come from overseas. For doctors, the figure is 25%.
So as to increase the number of applicants, the cost of the visa will be reduced from £928 to £464, effectively half. Also, the applicants will know their acceptance status within two weeks.
The Tories have also said that they will scrap the minimum salary requirement of £30,000 for skilled migrants looking for five-year visas.
This sounds promising. The reduced fee is a good step and a sign that the government has realized that the current immigration status is very expensive.
The Move Aims to Counter The Massive UK Nurse and Doctor Shortage
Additionally, there would be no cap on the number of people immigrating to the UK through the NHS. Besides, people coming to the country to join the NHS will receive extra points in the points-based-system and enjoy preferential treatment.
And not just that...
The cost of the immigration health surcharge will be deducted from the immigrants’ salaries in case the charge is not offered by the NHS trust offering the job.
The UK government’s plan is to launch the scheme before the points-based system becomes official in 2021. At the moment, the UK already has instituted a fast-track visa route to bring in more people who are specialists in technology, science, and engineering.
According to Health Secretary Matt Hancock, the NHS has always hired globally from its creation. He also says that his goal is to attract the best talent in the world.
Hancock believes that the new visa will allow the NHS to attract the best doctors and nurses, thereby giving patients the best possible care.
Priti Patel, Home Secretary, says that the new visa is part of the plan to replicate the successful Australian points-based immigration system that attracts the best talent while controlling the number of immigrants.
This, according to Patel, will give Britain the best of both worlds by giving patients excellent care, while not increasing the porosity of the country’s borders.
What the Critics of the NHS Visa Think
Not everyone welcomes the NHS visa idea. For example, shadow home secretary Diane Abbott says that the Tories are entangling themselves over immigration.
According to Diane, the Tories preach a hard-line stance on immigration, but then have to accept that they need migrant workers for key sectors other than the NHS.
For one, according to the critics, the policy says nothing about nurses who are currently earning less than the income threshold. What about the cleaners, cooks, hospital porters and others who help keep the hospital running?
Also, there is no mention of whether successful NHS visa applicants can bring their families to the UK.
We’ll Keep You Updated
We are very keen on the changes taking place in the health industry and as such, encourage you to keep an eye on our blog for updates on the proposed NHS visa and others.
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